5 Pitches For The Worst Movie Ever Made

In which Frood makes it clear why Hollywood won’t return his calls.

1)    Georgia Boy

In a world of 11 point font, justified text Arial and Calibri for emails, 1 man is willing to stand out and be counted.  Next spring, 1 man will make the difference.  In April 2014, that man is… Georgia Boy.

 

According to some critics, Movie 43 might be the worst film ever made.  It goes beyond being so bad it’s good to being so bad it’s merely…bad.  Worse than Ed Wood movies bad; worse even than Michael Winner, God rest his soul.

And applying some mathematics to it, here’s why – Hall Pass, Say It Isn’t So and Shallow Hal had 2 Farrelly brothers, Movie 43 had only 1 and must therefore be only half as good as those films.

But of course it’s fighting against a long and ignoble tradition with all the entrenched interests that suggests – in this case the likes of Showgirls and Battlefield: Earth.

2)    Barrack Of Ages

Musical biopic of the 44th president.  Highlights include such memorable songs as Standing On The Dock Of Guantanamo Bay and I Got 99 Problems But A Mitt Ain’t One.

Apparently it’s crass, racist, deeply offensive in every way and utterly insensitive in even more ways. But otherwise, a couple of studios remain quite interested.

 

Pearl Harbour has its cheerleaders for being among the worst ever, but it doesn’t count because it was a roaring financial success.  This arguably conclusively proves something awful about the public’s taste only hinted at by the enduring popularity of whatever you, cherished reader, consider tackiest.

Then there are movies such as 2003’s The Room, once-serious films retrofitted as exercises in kitsch (no, seriously guys, we totally meant it as a…a black comedy).  ‘So bad it’s good’ remains a badge of a particular kind of quality – it’s awful, but you’ll love it.  In rare cases (such as The Room) this results in dedicated screenings for cult followers many years later.

3)    Poultry-geist

A hard-boiled horror film.  There’s something fowl about the house at the end of the road – chicken kievs dance the Macarena, drumsticks float in the night and attack the children.  A fried egg leaves the pan and transforms into a poached egg.

As the mysterious pranks become more severe and violent, the residents reach an egg-streme conclusion.  The house is haunted, and they must shell out for an eggs-orcist. 

That’s all yolks.

 

Incidentally, according to that fountain of dubious, apocryphal knowledge, Wikipedia, the word ‘kitsch’ was birthed in the Munich art markets of the mid-19th century.  It denoted cheap and popular images – easily marketable and capable of mass production.  Given that cultural value and commercial viability tend to make uneasy bedfellows, it’s easy enough to assume that kitsch was meant to be derogatory.  Who says I never learn you nothin’?

A century on (give or take), in the 1960s, kitsch became cool.  Adam West’s Batman epitomised this – day-glo camp, knowingly tacky.  The stuffy snobbery of high culture with its increasingly esoteric nature gave way to the vaguely ironic (but still chin stroking) consumption of precisely the sort of crap that’s bad for you.

4)    Domestic Avengers

The house is a mess, with guests due to arrive shortly.  The Incredible Bulk is sitting on the couch drinking and watching Sky Sports News.  Because the only thing better than watching sport on the tv is watching people who are watching sport on the tv.

But don’t dial for divorce yet, misogynistically-characterised housewife, because the Domestic Avengers are here to save the day.  There’s Thor the Flashguard-ian who can hammer through tough kitchen stains and Ironing Man whose mk IV armour comes with an improved steam function. 

And something about Captain America.

NB: The Fantastic Floor and Dirt-devil wanted in, but their rights are owned by Fox, so they couldn’t.  Except that Dirt-devil’s rights have reverted back to Marvel so he could have been involved, but it’s still too soon since that ghastly Ben Affleck movie, so he couldn’t.

 

But the worst movie of all time can’t really hope to play Batman and Robin at its own game and win.  Maybe the trick is to think outside the box – there are enough blockhead blockbusters on the list already.

Maybe it’s time to take the fight to the Academy, to make a period piece adaptation of a classic work of literature that manages to misinterpret the source material in the worst way.  Baz Luhrmann to direct, sneer sneer, snark snark.

5)    Madame Aviary

A beautiful if feckless birdhouse distracts herself from a loveless marriage to a provincial doctor by getting herself repainted and reupholstered, before engaging in a torrid affair with Springwatch presenter, Bill Oddie (Derek Jacobi). 

Sigh, fine: he saw her tits and couldn’t wait to get inside her. 

Next time on Frood: get ready for the canned laughter as we outline our ‘odd couple’ Silicone Valley sitcom, That’s So Siri!!!, coming soon for a given value of ‘soon’.

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Friday’s Neoligistic Mental Exercise

And finally on this verbal diarrhoea Friday, because it’s vaguely that time again, here is this week’s mental exercise.  This one is simple enough: invent a new word and use it in a conversation or twelve.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Confound others with compound words, such as:

Flabbergusted – flabbergasted plus disgusted: the sensation of being rendered speechless by something because said something made you feel seriously nauseous.

Confuse others by adapting an existing word but giving it a slightly new meaning:

Locomotion – derived from the word ‘motion’ as in movement and loco as in Spanish for crazy.  Literally: the act of walking in a random but crazed fashion.

Do a Douglas Adams and give a meaning to a location:

Chiswick – the feeling of extreme light-headedness one sometimes feel if one stands up too quickly.

Go for broke and just stick some random letters together:

Cludgeblethle – descriptive word meaning a person who used to be fun but has now become prematurely middle-aged and also worryingly fixated on the importance of fibre to aid one’s unmentionable biological processes.  Example: that guy is such a cludgeblethle.

__

PS: for the sake of all that is good and holy, please don’t simply take a noun and turn it into a verb.  Even though that’s probably how most of my native tongue developed.

Stephen Spielberg And The Inevitable Death Of Hollywood

‘Tis often said that evil contains the seeds of its own destruction, and so appears to be the case with Hollywood – if the plaintive cries of some of its most acclaimed talents are to be believed.

First it was Stephen Soderbergh telling anyone who would listen that he’s done with Hollywood because ‘they’ passed on his new Liberace biopic for being too gay.

And now, as you may be aware, noted clairvoyants Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas are reported to have predicted a hellish post-apocalypse for mankind.   That’s right, folks, punters are to be forced to spend inflation busting sums ($25! $50!) for the privilege of watching Iron Man 12: The Search For Rust Guard and the third reboot of the Twilight saga.

The plus side is that our sages reckon films like Lincoln will be cheaper than now except that 1) no they absolutely won’t and 2) you won’t be seeing them at the multiplex because they’ll all be on HBO.

All it will take is for a few tentpoles to detumesce in quick succession, they didn’t quite say at an opening for a brand spanking new complex at the University of Southern California recently.  For film students.

But, dear reader, the dire warnings get worse – after a couple of these monsters of cock have failed to rise, the industry itself will implode becoming even more conservative than it is already.  And more expensive as fewer studios are forced to bet the bottom line on cinematic Viagra (like they do already).  Survival of the dickest, as Darwin certainly wouldn’t have put it.

But that’s probably enough penis jokes to last a lifetime.

Strewn throughout this irradiated landscape will be unemployed directors.  Even a predilection towards lens flare and jump cutting might spark the pique of the McArthyite blacklist marked ‘unprofitably interested in something other than bombs and boobs’.

In other words, we’d best get used to this brave new world lest the culture shock of every film being a sub-Bruckheimer special kills us.  As is painfully obvious, the only accolade that matters is the one marked ‘box office’.

But we’ve been here before, right?

“Sell the kids for food,” sang Kurt Cobain longer ago than you might care to admit.  By the end of the decade some irresponsible and impecunious types were perhaps more likely to sell the kids for CDs as prices rocketed.  1999 was a record breaking year for the music industry.

And then the internet proved to be something more than a faddy flash in the pan for basement-bound 30 year old virgins, and a complacent, deeply conservative industry was brought to its knees.

Something similar is happening with publishing as the industry diversifies in the face of an old, arrogant business model being undermined in part by its own inability to adapt to change and new threats to its profit margin.

The old top down model in which a group we’ll label ‘facilitators’ dictate what can and can’t be served upon a weeping public is clearly no longer the only game in town.

The likes of Spielberg warning putative directors that they won’t get work, because even the big dogs are struggling, is valid of course.  But it’s hard to escape the suspicion that what they mean is that they’re finding it harder to get away with the budget and level of creative control to which they’re used in the same environment they’ve always known.

George Lucas may have had to fight to get Red Tails financed but that was almost certainly less to do with stingy studios than it was to do with Indiana Jones 4 and his Star Wars prequel trilogy.  Also, Red Tails was shite.

Likewise, conventional Hollywood may have passed on Liberace, but HBO jumped on it, and is likely to reap the rewards.  Spielberg’s own Lincoln was itself almost an HBO production as he was quick to recognise.

Three counterpoints, then.  Firstly, the cruel reality of the creative arts is that all are eventually cast adrift in favour of the new.  Eventually even the greatest of greats are handed their lifetime achievement awards as the circle jerk of life continues.  And you’re not exactly hearing the blockbusting likes Joss Whedon or JJ Abrams complaining about having to fight harder than usual for their visions.

Secondly, as even these bods have freely accepted, there are avenues by which ‘more artistic’ projects can be realised.  Because there is clearly a demand for films that don’t involve explosions.  The industry may splinter to cater for disparate tastes, but those tastes will still be catered for.

Thirdly, predictions of the future are a mug’s game.  After all in 1967 some predicted the death of the entire Hollywood studio system as New York upstarts such as Mike Nicholls tore up the schmaltzy, reactionary rulebook with films such as The Graduate.

All that in mind, here’s my own prediction – there is a demand for, forgive me, more demanding films.  That craving is currently (mostly) being sated by TV’s golden age, but the one guarantee is that that won’t continue indefinitely.  TV is no less conservative than cinema – both love themselves a formula (cop shows and superheroes).

And as night follows day, the new becomes old, formulae become stale; the circle jerk of life continues.

Hollywood probably will find ways to boost ticket prices in the short/mid-term, but that’s ultimately counter-productive.  There may be a painful market correction, but eventually ‘normal’ service will resume.  Hollywood and her studio system may not survive unscathed, but directors will still get to make challenging, creative movies and have them shown in the cinema.

Because people like the cinema experience.  However good home systems become it’s never going to be quite the same, if only because it’s hard to replicate the sound of a hundred people chewing in one’s living room.  There may well be fewer cinemas, but a demand will invariably be met, whatever the good or service.

As with music (home recording, smaller labels) and publishing (self-publishing, ebooks), cinema is going through some changes.  While it may react against the onset of puberty by clinging more closely to its childhood toys, changes are inevitable.

But as with puberty, it’s not necessarily all bad.

Justice League vs Avengers: My Superhero Club’s Better Than Your Superhero Club

When I was smaller than I am today, there was an advertising campaign for a range of chocolate bars featuring obnoxious stage school brats singing “IF you looooiiiiikkke a lot of chocolate on yer biscuit…Join our CLUB!!!”

If you didn’t have a Club bar in your packed lunch you weren’t worth nuffin’ in my playground.

Double negatives aside, from one playground squabble to the next: DC/Warner Bros’ Justice League movie.  The movie was green-lit approximately 30 seconds after the Avengers (Marvel/Disney) numbers started rolling in.  Oh go on then, I’ll reuse an old favourite of mine: it was Green-Lanterned.

How the long winter nights fly by.

And then it was off again, like Ross and Rachel from Friends but with more spandex and self-doubting movie executives.

But before it was quietly shelved, or at least delayed, there was more to JL than money envy.  It represented the latest skirmish in the war between DC and Marvel.  DC may own (I won’t even say ‘arguably’) the world’s most recognisable superheroes in Superman and Batman, but it’s conspicuously failed to wrangle the rest of its stable onto the silver screen with anything like the success enjoyed by its rival.

And given the near-constant fiscal uncertainty surrounding the comics industry, dis be a problem, ya dig.

But there’s also a hint of one upmanship.  Justice League of America debuted around 1960, the Avengers following in 1963.  In fact Stan Lee is said to have created Marvel’s Fantastic Four as a slightly panicked interim reaction to the JLA’s team up schtick.

And while the likes of Captain America and Iron Man are all well and good, Batman plus Superman is a hell of trump card.  At this point one wonders whether Marvel regrets flogging the rights to its bigger hitters like Spiderman to rival studios.

It’s all very exciting, anyway, for those who love this golden age of superpowered blockbusters.

Except that the alarm klaxons only ceased when the mooted JL movie was stood down.  And here’s why…

The One Where No-one Knows The Heroes

Two examples: DC’s Green Lantern and Marvel’s Thor.  Both are about a juvenile man-child given responsibility and magical accessories (a ring and a hammer respectively) and having to grow up.  Neither character was particularly famous.

And with respect to people who do know and love either character, both represented a pretty hard sell to the general public.

Green Lantern barely scraped back its budget and marketing costs.  The filmmakers didn’t appear to know what kind of film they wanted to make and consequently the film shifted tone abruptly between campy space opera, action spectacle, glib one-liners and half-assed stabs at gravitas.  It may have been available in a 3D format, but the script and characterisation remained firmly rooted in a 2D world.  Or as Roger Ebert put it in his pretty ambivalent defence “if you want a sound and light show, that’s what you get”.  By contrast The Telegraph put it on the list of its 10 worst films of 2011.

But at least Green Lantern got his flick.  Other DC characters who could qualify for the JL movie include Hawkman/girl: has wings, might fly.  Martian Manhunter: like Superman but green and Martian.  Because the last film to feature large green Martians, John Carter, was a roaring success.

Green Arrow.  If Batman had a love child with Robin Hood (s)he still wouldn’t be as derivative as this character.  But at least he has a TV show, unlike, say, Wonder Woman, the third prong in DC’s superbod troika, who couldn’t make it past a pilot a few years back and whose latest vehicle remains stalled.

Cramming a load of expository backstory for relatively unknown characters into a JL movie doesn’t sound much like entertainment, especially as the movie will likely itself be an origin story – the tale of how the JL came to be.

The One Where No-one’s Ready

But even the ones the public can probably be relied on to recognise pose their own problems.  First up, Wonder Woman.  Unlike the chaps above, people tend to remember Wonder Woman – she wears a basque and hot pants and looks like Lynda Carter.

She’s got killer accessories but is lumbered with a challenging story involving the gods of Ancient Greece.  That and varying characterisations which veer between aggressive matriarchy, vague feminism and the sexism inherent in much of comic book tradition.

Likewise The Flash – dude runs really fast, wears a red outfit.  The public might wonder when Daredevil got his sight back, stopped being Ben Affleck and learned to run really, really fast.  But even if they don’t, the name Barry Allen will mean nothing to many, let alone his character and motivations.

Both of these characters could do with being introduced in their own story before being inducted into the JL, but the next character has the opposite problem.

The One Where Batman Needs A Lie Down

There was a rumour that Joseph Gordon-Levitt cameos in Man Of Steel, and ‘maybe’ someone else from Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.  At the time it felt like a transparent attempt to tie Nolan’s name to Zack Snyder’s sombre Superman, landing soon at a multiplex near you.  To be fair to Sad Supes, Russell Crowe’s his dad, and that’s probably a fairly challenging shadow from which to emerge.

The temptation to big up the Nolan connection is understandable for two reasons.  First because his Batman trilogy was hugely successful critically and commercially and second because unlike everyone else linked to it, he’s ready for a JL movie.  Batman needs no introduction and poses no commercial risk – even Joel Schumacher’s films-that-shan’t-be-named couldn’t kill the franchise.

Except that he’s not really ready for a JL movie.

The Nolan trilogy is self-contained – even Zorro doesn’t exist (same as zombie movies tend not to exist in zombie movies).  Going from an ‘almost real’ setting to an almost real setting that says by the way here’s flying alien Jesus, Zeus’ little girl and a couple others, now let’s smack down an equally credibility-stretching mega threat….well it’s a toughie.  There’s also the small, potentially a spoiler matter that Nolan resolved the Batman story in The Dark Knight Rises.

Last but not least, the character’s been in 7 live action movies since 1989.  Dude needs a holiday.

The One Where We Get To The Actual Insurmountable Problem

But maybe I’m wrong on all this.  MAYBE recognition is the same thing as affection, obviating the need for standalone movies for The Flash, Wonder Woman und zo weiter.

But back to Green Lantern and Thor.  Thor benefitted from the in-house approach Marvel took to its characters pre-Avengers.  It tied into a wider fictional universe.  But more importantly for our purposes it tied into a wider cinematic universe – when Thor shares a screen with Iron Man there’s no need to reconcile wild differences in tone, colour palette and cinematography. Their movies aren’t identical of course, but they’re recognisably similar – brightly lit, more primary coloured than muted hues.

On the other hand taking a day-glo, wisecracking Green Lantern out of a CGI-fantastical reality and plonking him next to growly Batman in shades of brown and light rain does seem like a serious problem.

In blackest night picked out by the unnatural glow of streetlights if you will.

What is needed, and what Warner Bros appear to have belatedly accepted, is a consistency of approach.  Marvel may have begun its ascent to the top of the tentpole with Iron Man because it lacked the movie rights to X Men etc, but it wasn’t until the sequel started setting up a wider universe that it publicly announced an Avengers movie.  Thereafter it was able to tailor each new release to match a particular style.

The One Where We Finally Get To The End And Even Say Something Nice

A JL movie isn’t an inherently bad idea but Warner Bros probably do need to lay the groundwork – establish the look, feel and tone of the DC universe.  All of which depends on the Man of Steel, but then if he’s miserable and Batman’s moody, well a film about grumpy introverts might not be that much fun.

And it would already have been done in Watchmen, ironically enough directed by Zack Snyder.  There’s the gritty, psychotic one, the one with all the gadgets who can’t get it up unless he’s fighting crime because Freud.  Superman’s alienated (yes I did); the good guys are actually the bad guys and vice versa.

But as a take on the superhero club it might be good to make it as different from the Avengers as possible.

There are some interesting dynamics to explore – for all the character’s faults, Green Lantern belongs to a sort of police force and thus has authority where the others have power.  His area of responsibility is considerably wider than anyone else’s.  Both give room for his character to affect a supercilious attitude to the rest of the team barring possibly Wonder Woman.

Batman and Superman are often played for tension.  In fact compared to the others Batman is totally out of his depth physically (unless he’s wearing a yellow suit with a kryptonite brass knuckle of course), which could be tricky for his character to cope with.  Especially if fear-hating space cop Green Lantern gets all uppity.

Wonder Woman is, of course, female.  This provides a fantastic opportunity to play with precisely the sort of casual sexism that permeates both Hollywood films and comic books.  If it were up to me I’d have another superhero express undue concern for her safety because she’s, y’know, a chick, and have her lay the guy out with one punch.  I imagine it’s the sort of thing Joss Whedon might do.

Finally there is one more character who could/should be up for consideration: Aquaman.  But after all the Family Guy jokes I don’t anyone could be persuaded to take him seriously.

Other People’s DVD Collections – Why Not Having Hard Copies Is A Blessing

Yes, yes, no one really ‘does’ hard copies of film, music and tv any more except the REALLY cool kids who are now back on videotape because analogue is just more real. Reel to reel is where it’s at, of course; that and 8 track cassettes.  But who really has the time?

And here’s one reason why no one does hard copies any more:

So I couldn’t help but notice you own a copy of Moulin Rouge.  And the Da Vinci Code? Come on – watching the film is almost as bad as reading the book.  And 9 series of ER, really?

OK so you’ve got The Lost Boys on your shelf.  Snaps on hitting your quota of cultish 80s-ness that’s too widely disseminated and financially successful to be justifiably called ‘cult’.  On a related note, I didn’t see Bladerunner anywhere.  I assume you must have lent it out to someone.  No need for you to clarify.  Seriously.

Face Off! That film is terrible; I love it.  That bit where they have the slow motion gun fight soundtracked by Somewhere Over The Rainbow, did you ever hear Jeff Beck’s version of it he plays live sometimes?  Oh dear you can’t have intended to see The Descent more than once, can you?  Oh look, Glee.  Not to be a dick but I thought you were a guy?  Oh it’s your wife’s, sure it is, buddy.  Pal.

Little Ren and Stimpy reference for you there.  Oh wait, you never really ‘got’ Ren and Stimpy, did you? Incidentally, is that Spongebob Squarepants? Were you hit in the head a lot as a child?  Event Horizon? Are you still absolutely sure you weren’t hit in the head a lot as a child?

Oh look, an anniversary edition of Dirty Dancing. Nobody puts Swayze in the coroner.  Sorry, that was uncalled for.

I suppose the Home Alone movies are your wife’s too.  Now I love nostalgia as much as the next closet racist homophobe who got buggered senseless at boarding school and still yearns for the days of empire, but seriously, you’re almost 30. You shouldn’t be watching movies based on the lives of small boys.  Or anything by Disney even if we did both have a weird thing for Princess Jasmine when we were eight.  Or the Narnia movies.  Why do you own the Narnia movies?  Why does anyone? Even the books are fucking terrible.  There, I’ve said it.  Yes they are.  I can’t believe my iPad autocorrected ‘fucking’ to an entirely different word.  And again.

And The Mummy? Jeez, you’ll watch that rotting, raggedy corpse of a film but I suggest George Of The Jungle one time and you come over all ‘Brendan Fraser is a punishment for theft in some cultures’.  And no Airheads either.  Actually, what do you have against the 90s anyway? No Wayne’s World or True Romance; no Clueless. No, YOU’RE clueless.  Well you do have Home Alone I suppose so it’s not like you just hate the 90s.

And speaking of Mike Myers – what happened to your Austin Powers movies, I thought you loved those? Your wife make you get rid?  What, to make room for ‘her’ Dawson’s Creek boxed set that you’ve had since before you two were dating? You gonna’ blame her for all of it?  Because I honestly can’t imagine she’d have bought 2 copies of Titanic.

You do know I’ve met your wife, right?

Come to think of it I do like James Van Der Beek in that tv show about that bitch in that apartment and she’s really hot and also she was in that movie with Alice Eve we watched that one time…Fantastic Four?  That’s worse than owning Hocus Pocus.  Ah.  Never mind.

And what’s that next to it?  Bend It Like Beckham.  More like you’re a bender like Beckham.  Oh come on that’s definitely worth a high five.  Suit yourself.  Actually, I take it back anyway – you lost your high five privileges whenever it was you paid actual money for K-Pax.  And Grease.

Ok I actually believe that one’s your wife’s.

So what do you want to watch, anyway? I don’t mind – I’m pretty easygoing.